Cove Springs Nature Preserve, City of Frankfort, Franklin County, 100 out of 250 funded by the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund.
The purpose of Cove Springs Nature Preserve is to provide passive recreation including hiking, picnicking, nature observation, and environmental education. This nature preserve is split between two distinct units, a 50 acre wetland on the west side of US 127N and a spring and forested area on the east side. It has both historical and ecological significance. Historically it contains two significant sites: the stone retention dam, overflow tower, walled spring, possible gristmill and stone foundation of the original City of Frankfort waterworks. The spring, and associated crib dam and reservoir, were part of Frankfort’s first water system chartered in 1804. This is believed to be the first public water supply west of Alleghenies. Today, some of the high quality spring water, which originates as much as 5 miles away, is carried via a pipe to an old trout raceway and then drops over 25’ waterfall, Hurst Falls. The second historic site is the Cove Spring Farmstead which has a stone foundation, retaining wall, and 19th century meat house. One federally endangered plant species, Lucy Braun’s rockcress, and two state endangered species, globe bladderpod and Svenson’s wild rye, occur along the clifflines and rock outcroppings. The general forest type is calcareous mesophytic forest and chinkapin oak, sugar maple, American elm, bitternut hickory, blue and white ash, hackberry and black cherry dominate on the dirier sites; whereas, mesic sites are dominated by black walnut, northern red oak, American basswood, white ash, bitternut hickory, and Ohio buckeye. The lowest slopes have silver maple, boxelder, black walnut, Basswood and sycamore with and understory of spicebush and American bladdernut. Like most mesic forests in Central Kentucky, it has a rich spring wildflower display. The wetland site is considered an alluvial forest floodplain with transition shrub swamp and sycamore, slippery elm, cottonwood, boxelder, green ash, silver maple , and buttonbush. Marsh mallow (hibiscus) arrowhead, rice cutgrass, and smartweed are common plants found here. More than 257 species of plants, 15 mammals, 66 birds, 8 amphibians, and 6 reptiles have been observed in the park.
Cove Springs was awarded the outstanding stewardship award for 2010 by the Heritage Land Conservation Board and in 2012 a major stream and wetland restoration project was initiated.
Open to the public from sunrise to sunset daily. Take the US127/421 bypass north and exit to US 127N. Turn left (going north) and the entrance is a quarter mile on the right or left.